The Courage of Sarah Noble

Book cover: 'The Courage of Sarah Noble'
Alice Dalgleish
Aladdin Books
Number of pages: 
54 pages
Grade / Age level: 

The Courage of Sarah Noble is based on the true story of eight year old Sarah Noble, who accompanies her father into the Connecticut wilderness to cook meals for him as he builds the family's cabin. The story takes place in 1707 and focuses on her courage against the unknown fears of the wilderness.

Because the book focuses so much on her courage, this book could be used as a springboard for discussing the role of Guardian Angels in our lives. Of course, it should be mentioned to the child reading the story that Sarah was not Catholic and would not know that she could pray to her Guardian Angel whenever she was frightened. In the same light, it would also have been nice if Sarah would have placed more faith in God and said a prayer every time she was frightened instead of clutching her cloak or repeating the words "'keep up your courage.'" Sarah does, however, say her night prayers when she stays with an Indian family while her father returns home to bring the rest of the family to the cabin and she does read her Bible( Both incidents are naturally interwoven in the story).

In particular, I really liked the way Dalgliesh develops Sarah's relationship with her father. It is very heart warming to see this kind of relationship presented in literature. Not only is he a good role model as a father, but, as a character, he speaks with wisdom. He is very gentle, patient, and loving with her. One statement that he makes that is very heartening to hear is when he says, "'It was a blessing the Lord gave me daughters, as well as sons.'" How many daughters in real life yearn to hear their fathers say this? He also comments, when he is referring to the Indians, "'In our home all will be treated with kindness always Sarah.'" This is a nice counterpoint to the fear she had of the Indians as ruthless savages. The story also realistically makes clear that although some Indians are peaceful, some are to be feared.

My only concern with the story would be that I would be hesitant to read this story aloud with younger children (4 year olds) in the room who are already fearful by nature, because of the constant emphasis of her fear. For the age that it is intended, it should not be a problem.

Overall, this is an easy to read short chapter book for the 3rd-6th grade reader. It is a very realistic portrayal of life in the wilderness as a little girl struggles to overcome her fears, at the same time trying to do the right thing. Because of the way each chapter is presented, this book would be ideal for discussing each chapter's theme between the parent and child. I would recommend this book along with discussion. For example, "Do you think it was kind for the children to tease Sarah?" What could they have said instead.

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